The Macintosh's original family gathered Saturday night to celebrate the 30th birthday of Apple's iconic personal computer. Like any family reunion, it was cheerful, and occasionally tearful, and there was always the looming presence of the patriarch, Steve Jobs, who couldn't be there.
The celebration, dubbed "Mac@30," took place at the Flint Center in Cupertino, the same one where Jobs first introduced the game-changing computer to the world on Jan. 24, 1984. There was no Jobs hologram as some wished for and no appearances by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak or its current CEO, Tim Cook.
No, this was about the people whose presence on that stage in 1984 was the Mac itself. People like Bill Atkinson, Daniel Kottke, Andy Hertzfeld, Larry Tesler, Jerry Manock, Bruce Horn, George Crow, Caroline Rose, Steve Capps and Rod Holt. All of them, plus a few more, represented the 100-plus members of the original Macintosh development team in a pair of panel discussions about the Mac's prehistory and its development.
Bill Fernandez, Apple's employee No. 4 and the man who introduced Woz and Jobs to each other, served as emcee. Mike Markkula, employee No. 3 and Apple's second CEO, received a token of appreciation at the event -- a bronze sculpture of a Mac being held aloft by six arms with a plaque dedicated to him on its base.
"It's a great honor to be part of this celebration," Markkula said. "The world is a different place today because of the magic of the Macintosh user interface. You changed the world, and it's wonderful that you did."
And there was the original Mac itself, which sat on a table on the stage throughout the event. Its tote bag -- identical to the one Jobs had it in for the 1984 speech -- on the stage in front of it.
Capps, a programmer who, with Bruce Horn developed the Finder, started the machine and replicated the Mac's original "insanely great" introduction from 30 years ago when the computer "spoke for itself." Jobs' original intro was accompanied by Vangelis' "Chariots of Fire" theme; Capps used an iPhone to play the song into a microphone onstage.
Hundreds of people joined the party at the Flint Center, with people coming from as far away as Poland, South Africa and Australia. There were former and current Apple employees, with a lot of gray hair and T-shirts to show for it, entrepreneurs looking to gain insight on how to create a revolution and just plain ol' Macintosh fans who wanted to share the moment. Even John Sculley, the CEO who was at Apple's helm when Jobs was fired, was in the audience.
There were "home movies" -- in this case, videos of the 1984 introduction and a later demo featuring members of the development team from the Boston Computer Science. Everyone got to laugh at the facial hair and early '80s fashion sense. Fernandez talked about the debate over how to spell "Macintosh." Would it be McIntosh or Mackintosh? It was close. "I have a sweatshirt that says, 'Mackintosh,' " he said.
Steve Hayden, co-creator of the famous "1984" Super Bowl commercial while he was with the giant advertising firm Chiat\Day, showed that spot and several others while recounting how the Mac's impact even stretched to its marketing. "Steve Jobs gave us a six-word brief on the Macintosh," Hayden recalled. "Stop the world in its tracks."
As the development team gathered on stage for a crowded reunion photo, it was easy to forget that they were brought together by a product and a job that had some of them working 90-hour weeks. But clearly, all this passion points to it being something more.
Atkinson, who developed MacPaint and HyperCard, might have summed it up best.
"It wasn't working," he said. "We were making art."